Are Bad Habits Running Your Schedule?
How to Break the Cycle
By Jacqueline Sidman Ph.D.
this sound like a typical day to you? The alarm goes off and you hit
the snooze button, knowing from experience that doing so will make you
late for work again. On your way to work, you light up your morning
cigarette, putting it out as you stop off at Starbucks for the
espresso you know you will need in order to get through the morning.
In the office, the way you tap your pen against your teeth drives your
co-workers nuts, but you can’t think properly if you don’t do it.
After work, you visit your favorite fast food joint for a burger and
fries (that diet will just have to wait until Monday). After sitting
at your usual bar stool in a drinking establishment where the staff
know you by name, you go home and surf the net into the wee hours of
the morning, using your credit card to buy stuff you really can’t
if you don’t recognize yourself in that portrait, chances are you
have some negative behavior patterns with harmful consequences for you
and the people around you. After taking action to break these
patterns, many people find themselves slipping back into their old
habits after a short time, because they made no real change on the
inside. Regardless of what your bad habit is, below are some
strategies to help you break them:
Recognize the root cause:
first step towards breaking bad habits is to recognize their roots in
your childhood. This is not always easy, as the mind sometimes
suppresses unpleasant memories, or the connections can be obscure.
Some forms of hypnotherapy, such as The Sidman Solution, can help
here, as they unlock memories from the subconscious that the conscious
mind has blocked. Some patterns, though, are easy to recognize, even
without hypnotherapy. For example, overeating may be a result of not
having enough food as a child. The overeating adult’s subconscious
is seeking to ensure that he or she will never go hungry again. Or,
smokers may have had role models who smoked, which caused them to see
it as something that grown-ups do.
Want to change your ways:
you have identified the causes of your bad habits, the next step is to
want to change. Focus on the positive benefits to you of changing your
habits. Use your imagination to picture yourself free of the habit,
and the improvements that breaking it will bring to your life. Even if
you don’t really want to change and are only doing it for health
reasons, you can succeed in breaking your bad habits if you raise your
awareness of their negative consequences and your consciousness of the
advantages of being free of the habits. Most hospitals offer classes
on common causes of preventable illness. You can also find information
in public libraries and on the internet.
Don’t resist the change:
you make the decision to change, resistance will start to set in.
Breaking bad habits involves coming out of your comfort zone, and your
mind will start to resist the change. This can take many forms, either
psychological or physical. All sorts of fears will start to set in,
and physical ailments can start to develop, ranging from tension
headaches to potentially life-threatening illnesses.
means that outdated or false information remains imprinted in your
mind and is preventing you from getting what you want. Feelings are
more powerful than thoughts, so even when your rational mind knows
what you want and how to get it, feelings of resistance can prevent
you from taking the actions you know you need to take in order to
achieve your goals. These inappropriate fears are a defense mechanism
against what you might call a “phantom foe.” They mean that the
mind is hanging on to previously needed defenses that guarded against
real dangers, and is using them against an imaginary enemy.
people even convince themselves that they like their bad habits and
don’t need to change. Such people need to educate themselves about
the negative consequences of their habits, and if necessary, seek
Overcome your fears:
your fears means coming out of the comfort zone that you created for
yourself in childhood. Our subconscious minds operate in predictable,
pre-programmed ways, responding to stimuli in the same way they did
when we were children, even if the response is no longer appropriate.
Our conscious minds, on the other hand, are far more capable of
adapting to changing circumstances and creating appropriate responses
to external stimuli.
inappropriate fears involves using your conscious mind to reprogram
your subconscious. This does not mean that we let go of all emotions.
Emotions, when appropriate, are a beautiful thing. Human beings were
born to feel; it is what separates us from machines. But we need to
learn to recognize inappropriate emotions and train ourselves to
release the unwanted baggage that, if unchecked, could lead to those
emotions taking over our lives.
Manage your emotions:
do you tell the difference between an appropriate and an inappropriate
emotion? Simply put, responding to a situation is appropriate,
automatically over-reacting is inappropriate. If a person is in
harmony with his or her subconscious, even feelings of disappointment
are temporary and manageable. If the conscious and subconscious minds
are out of harmony, appropriate feelings turn into ones of stress,
anxiety, and depression.
what does this have to do with bad habits? Well, bad habits are rooted
in fear. We are afraid of the mostly imaginary negative consequences
of breaking our habit. For example, a person’s subconscious mind
might tell them that if they don’t super-size their fries at a fast
food restaurant, they will go hungry, just like when they were a child
and had to accept smaller portions at mealtimes so there was enough
food for their brothers and sisters. That person’s rational,
conscious mind knows full well that a regular portion of fries is
enough to fill them up, but the subconscious is far stronger than the
conscious mind, meaning that feelings will trump logic every time. The
fear is a response to a circumstance that was true in their childhood,
but not now as an adult.
Glow from Within:
you conquer your fear about what can happen, you will begin to feel
peaceful, more in control, less over-emotional, and more joyful.
Negative emotions will not have a hold on you; the negative chatter
will stop repeating in your brain. How long does change usually take?
It takes a heartbeat if you do it right. If you really get to where
your subconscious formed the bad habit and you can reprogram that
moment, you can be different from then on. You will be happier, more
confident, more creative, and more successful in all areas of your
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about Jacqueline Sidman, PhD.
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